MORE transport safety officers (TSOs) have been put on patrol to tackle anti-social behaviour across the region’s bus network.
The specially trained officers are deployed to deal with low-level nuisance, disorder and anti-social behaviour targeting routes and locations based on reports received from transport staff or the general public.
They have been added to the team of three TSOs who were appointed in 2021, and have the powers to issue fixed penalty fines for behaviour such as smoking, littering, disorder, vandalism and throwing fireworks.
They have been assigned to the West Midlands Safer Travel Partnership, a collaboration between Transport for the West Midlands (TfWM), West Midlands Police and the British Transport Police, and work alongside police officers and police community support officers covering the bus, tram and rail networks.
Funding for the team has come from the £88million Bus Service Improvement Plan grant awarded to TfWM, part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) by Government last year.
West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, said: “This investment in safety was of course made possible thanks to the Bus Service Improvement Plan funding we secured which has also enabled us to take steps to make our bus services more attractive to passengers and build our services back up to pre-Covid levels. ”
The Safer Travel Partnership said that according to the latest data there were just 1.9 crimes reported for every 100,000 bus journeys in December 2022.
In one incident a young woman on Metro was able to seek assurance after being made to feel uncomfortable by a fellow passenger.
She approached the TSO and asked for help with a ticket, while showing her phone screen with a discreet message explaining she had received inappropriate advance.
The TSO was able to support the woman and deter further unwanted behaviour.
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, said: “I’m very pleased to see 8 new uniformed officers are now out and about, helping to prevent and tackle crime and anti-social behaviour on our buses.
“The overwhelming majority of journeys on public transport in our region pass without incident, but it’s important that we’re not complacent and that safety and security are our top priority.”